Budget 2021

A ₹2.24-lakh-crore shot in the arm

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on February 01, 2021

Ready to fight: FM pats Indian vaccine scientists   -  The Hindu

Healthcare spending jumps 137%; ₹35,000-crore funding for vaccination drive

Still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, India has proposed to increase the spending on the health and well-being sector by 137 per cent to ₹2,23,846 crore from ₹94,452 crore allocated in the current fiscal. The scope of its coverage, however, enlarged to include nutrition, drinking water and sanitation.

The allocation, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who presented the Budget in the Lok Sabha on Monday, would also include ₹35,000 crore set aside for Covid-19 vaccination apart from Finance Commission grants worth ₹36,022 crore and ₹13,192 crore for water and sanitation as well as health sector, respectively.

Sitharaman described health and well-being as one of the six key pillars of Atmanirbhar Bharat and lauded Indian scientists for developing two Covid-19 vaccines, which are already “safeguarding not only her citizens but also of 100 or more countries”.

While the budget of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare increased marginally to ₹71,269 crore from ₹65,012 crore in 2020-21, that of Department of Health Research to ₹2,663 crore from ₹2,100 crore and that of Ayush to ₹2,970 crore from ₹2,122 crore.

The Finance Minister also announced a new PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Yojana, which would spend an additional ₹64,180 crore over the next six years for beefing up public health infrastructure in the country. The funds will be used for developing capacities for primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare systems, strengthening existing institutions and creating new ones for new emerging diseases, she said.

Apart from providing support for 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban health and wellness centres, the funds under the mission will be used for integrated public health labs in all districts and public health units in 3,382 blocks, critical care hospital blocks in 602 district hospitals and 12 central institutions.

Similarly the money will also be spent on strengthening the National Centre for Disease Control and its five regional units, 20 metropolitan health surveillance units as well as for expansion of the national health information portal by connecting all public health labs across the country, she said. Also on the cards are nine new biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) labs and four regional national institutes of virology.

For early detection and management of new and emerging infectious diseases coming to the country, public health units will be set up at all 32 international airports,11 seaports and seven land border crossings. This would mean strengthening 33 such existing public health units and establishing 17 new units at entry point where they do not exist currently.

The government, which has already introduced a National Commission for Allied Healthcare Professionals Bill in Parliament, for efficient and transparent regulation of the 56 allied healthcare professions, would also table a National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill for bringing about transparency, efficiency and governance reforms in the nursing profession, she said.

Published on February 01, 2021

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